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According to this page, Macbooks are expandable to memories larger (and, in one case, faster) than those released by Apple. Search for "expandable" in that page to see the many cases.

But Apple is keen on bleeding edge technology and specs, which suggests that Apple has a technical reason (odd crashes?) for not offering the largest/fastest memory, not even as an option.

Would you comment on the reliability of notebooks after performing these upgrades (i.e. have you experienced increased crashes / instability)?

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This might get a better hearing if you just ask as objective a question as you can. Is going past Apple recommended RAM limits advisable? Rather than editorializing on pricing. If you ask about pricing, people are free to weigh in on how much it costs Apple to stock, ship, document, support (including pre-shipping parts worldwide to offer genius bar support for every conceivable combination). That alone would be a large chapter in a book on how to run a business like Apple. What margins Apple gets seems to be irrelevant to whether something would work in practice. – bmike Feb 4 '13 at 19:38
I couldn't care less about the business side. My question is about the reliability after upgrading to unsupported specs. But I see your point. The "editorializing" that might have been construed as criticizing Apple is now fully pro-Apple. – Calaf Feb 4 '13 at 20:01
I care not about pro apple - if people have beefs and are polite about it - anger, disappointment, criticism are all welcome here. Especially when there is useful information / discussion surrounding it. I didn't want notoriety / speculation to derail what could be a nice question here. – bmike Feb 4 '13 at 20:03

Anyone that is skilled at troubleshooting bad RAM shouldn't shy away from learning what they give up when they install third party RAM in their Mac.

Basically, you give up having AppleCare or the Warranty cover that part and perhaps them diagnosing a problem they can't reproduce with factory RAM installed.

As you probably know, an intel designed (or influenced) chipset and logic board will often run with more memory than Apple will install in the factory, as an upgrade or even list as "supported" yet reputable memory vendors have been providing details on which machines will run reliably when loaded with high quality RAM that meets the technical requirements if not the marketing requirements from Apple.

I would look to sites like RamJet or Crucial or OWC/MacSales that have covered aftermarket upgrades to Macs for years and have established a reputation for having good warranties and information on determining if a specific RAM configuration is expected to be reliable on a Mac.

You of course may run into issues and bugs where certain chips fail oddly or tuning isn't ideal, but the time you gain in having more RAM often outweighs the time / expense of doing some hardware support if you run into issues and want to swap back in the Apple factory RAM to ensure you're not to blame for any oddities or failures by pushing the line on RAM.

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If Corsair, Crucial, or Kingston sanctioned a memory upgrade that Apple does not sanction, I wouldn't hesitate. The trouble is that memory makers follow closely Apple's guidelines. One is then wholly on one's own when upgrading. – Calaf Feb 4 '13 at 20:04
@Calaf Not wholly on one's own: I'd trust a reputable dealer like OWC even if the manufacturers themselves refrain from comment. – Dan J Feb 4 '13 at 20:11
@DanJ Thanks for the pointer to OWC. They seem not to endorse upgrades that are not also offered by Apple. – Calaf Feb 4 '13 at 20:41
I put three vendors that have been around, but RamJet not only gets my business, but when I call/email them for support, they dig into things and often publish what combinations they will back when those combinations are more than Apple specifies. I've never used crucial, but I know and respect many that like to save costs and push the specs a bit more than RamJet will. RamJet's engineering / support / warranty is top notch in my experience and stands above the rest. – bmike Feb 4 '13 at 21:00

I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Apple gladly charges whatever they want because they can and people will gladly pay them. It's a fairly straight forward concept.

As far as memory goes, there is nothing exotic about memory sold in a multiple of 2. It's actually incredibly standard. Why does Apple not put the most amount of RAM into one of their MacBook Pros then they can is like asking why any computer company doesn't use the best components possible at the time. There are a number of reasons which are not really worth getting into.

And to finally answer your question yes. I've upgraded the memory in every MacBook I've ever owned. As long as you find compatible memory the computer should be fine.

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All is good, but I have trouble with the "computer should be fine." I would like to keep OS X running as long as I keep a linux box running. In practice linux will gladly last 6 months, and in one case, 3 years, without crashing, while I have trouble keeping OS X running perpetually. The crashes are certainly not frequent, but they do happen. Could my tendency to tinker be the culprit? Were the machines you upgraded rock-solid (as in they hardly ever crashed)? – Calaf Feb 4 '13 at 20:12
My Mac has crashed far less since I upgraded from the default 4 GB Apple ships as standard... – daviewales Feb 5 '13 at 6:44
Upgrading RAM in any system isn't going to be the only contributing factor in stability. So to answer your question, more or less, I've never had a system crash on my latest MacBook. On the other hand, I've had applications crash on me. Similarly my server running Ubuntu has never crashed, on the other hand, Ubuntu running on my desktop throws errors/crashes regularly. – Tony Feb 5 '13 at 17:19

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